Did you hear the news from Georgetown University? You remember Georgetown. It’s the “Catholic” university whose Jesuit-led administration adamantly opposed putting crucifixes in the classrooms. In fact, if it weren’t for a groundswell of support from the alumni and the undergrads (including the Muslim and Jewish undergrads, let it be noted), there would still be no crucifixes on the walls.
Well, now we know why the administration didn’t want crucifixes on campus. Who wants reminders of suffering and death when you’re in the middle of ripping apart living children on campus using government funds? Yes, it seems Georgetown is involved in slicing and dicing embryos in order to sell their organs… oh wait, no, it’s just their stem cells, so that makes it all better, doesn’t it? Well, it does according to the Reverend Kevin T. Fitzgerald.
According to the Reverend Fitzgerald (it’s hard to call a man “Father” when he advocates using the remnants of children torn apart for research) using these cell lines for research is acceptable because:
1) The researchers didn’t know they originated in abortion,
2) The abortions weren’t specifically caused in order to get the cell lines,
3) The abortions which produced them happened 25 to 40 years ago,
4) The research might one day provide health benefits,
5) Who wants to lose government funding?
If this is the level of ethical reasoning in Georgetown, it’s time to re-orient the university towards a more intellectual level of discourse. I suggest a hair salon or barbershop, although those familiar with Georgetown insist a set of pick-up basketball courts would not only provide the necessary elevation in moral reasoning, but would also provide excellent calisthenics for all involved while better blending into Georgetown’s culture.
We can see why Georgetown is better off being converted into a parking lot by examining the good priest’s reasoning. The first is impressive in its audacity. These researchers are working on tissue and they don’t know it’s origin? How does that work, exactly? There are hundreds of cell lines: researchers typically decide which cell line to work based in part on its origin. After all, you would hate to get a grant for a project on kidney cells only to find out your secretary actually used the funds to order lung tissue. But let’s say she got the lung tissue right. Well, which lung tissue line? There are always concerns about a cell line’s history – how has it been used in the past, how stable is it, does it give reliable, reproducible results, etc. In the normal course of researching the line you want to use, you will ordinarily discover its source. To say these researchers didn’t know the source of the tissue they were using is arguably a statement about the level of research taking place at Georgetown.
But that’s just the beginning. Next, he tells us the abortions weren’t specifically caused in order to get the cell lines. That is the most rank absurdity a man could utter without being struck by lightning from the heavens. Perhaps the woman who had a sharp knife shoved between her legs and had her child torn apart inside of her didn’t know or intend a cell line to be established, but the man wielding the blade certainly did. Cell lines require absolutely fresh cells. The minute that knife starts cutting the child to shreds, those cells begin to die. They have to be put in a culture immediately, or there won’t be anything to culture at all. Thus, researchers who establish cell lines from aborted children typically kneel right at the foot of the abortionist’s table, placing the bits of the baby into their culture dishes even as the abortionist’s suction machine is whirring in their ear.
So, yes, the abortion was intended to produce a cell line. What does the good priest think, that the researcher clubbed the abortionist over the head and took the cells out of the aspirator while the nurse looked on in surprise? Or maybe he thought the researcher dug through the garbage after hours and scraped the cells off of an old bit of newspaper and coffee grounds? If so, he should give up his job as a medical ethicist, since he clearly doesn’t know squat about cell cultures or basic biology.
Then we hear that the abortions were performed decades ago, so they aren’t relevant. In the parlance of the modern “ethicists”, that makes the action sufficiently distant so as not to contaminate the research ethically. Yvonne Bontkowski, a member of Children of God for Life, pointed out that this meant she didn’t need to go to confession anymore. After all, the Fall of Adam and Eve was a long time ago, so it certainly doesn’t impact her actions today. And since there’s no definition of what “distant” means, what’s the difference between an abortion committed yesterday and one committed twenty-five years ago? To God, a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day, so if it isn’t a problem in one case, it sure isn’t a problem in the other one either. You can build a whole new theology out of this: if I just wait long enough to go to confession, I never have to go at all. The effect of evil actions apparently evaporate over time. As the king said in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “This new learning amazes me! Tell me again how we know the world is banana-shaped.”
But the priest isn’t finished shoveling yet. He says the research on embryonic stem cells from sliced and diced children “might” provide health benefits. Very nice. Tell that to the people who got injections of aborted fetal cells into their brains to treat Parkinson’s. Apparently no one told the fetal cells they weren’t in the womb. They started growing into fetal parts inside the patient skulls, putting enough pressure on their brains to kill them. The technical term for this is “teratoma.” Teratomas happen a lot with cells from aborted embryos. Cells from abortion are so darned unstable that they act like cancer cells when they are implanted into a patient. That’s why embryonic stem cells from aborted children have never healed anyone. Researchers can’t get them to stop turning cancerous.
The funny thing is, we could go elsewhere to get embryonic stem cells. Umbilical cord blood is rich in them. Milk the cord blood after a child’s birth, after the cord is tied, and you can treat hundreds of diseases. The same goes for stem cells obtained from adult tissue in a simple, non-life-threatening procedure. Neither of these techniques for obtaining stem cells harm anyone. Hundreds of people are walking around today, alive, healed, because there are ethical researchers who get stem cells from the umbilical cord right after it is cut, or from simple blood or bone marrow aspiration, even a scraping of fat from adults. That’s right, liposuction provides eminently useable stem cells, stem cells that can be used to treat hundreds of diseases today.
So why does anyone insist on slicing and dicing children in order to get stem cells? Because some people just like to slice and dice children. That’s why the media never reports on advances in adult stem cell use, or on how easy it is to use stem cells from cord blood and fat. They want to justify abortion, so they keep pursuing medical uses for abortion. Meanwhile, the cells obtained from these abortions keep maiming and killing people. God’s funny that way. But some people just don’t take a hint.
One of those people is Cardinal McCarrick. An otherwise staunchly pro-life man, he has apparently been bamboozled by the clowns of Georgetown in what can only be described as a moral shell game. “Just keep your eyes on the shells, ladies and cardinals! The hand is quicker than the eye! Can you guess where the pea is hidden? Lay your money down, Cardinal, lay it right down!” He bought the arguments hook, line and sinker. Ah, those clowns at Georgetown! Just watching them brings a grown man to tears.